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Friday, October 12, 2012

Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone

Staying within your comfort zone can feel very safe. When you're in your comfort zone, you usually don't have to worry about making mistakes, taking risks or making other people feel uncomfortable. You can go along, as you always have, and continue doing what you've always done and get the same results or you can make changes to move out of your comfort zone.

Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone

Here is a vignette, which is a composite of many cases: 

Donald:
Donald has been working at the same job as marketing rep for five years. He began as an intern and was hired soon after college. Initially, he was excited about his job. However, over time, he's learned the job so well that it's no longer challenging. The company is small and there are few opportunities for advancement. Add to this that Donald lacks confidence to advocate for himself to get a raise or to do more interesting work and you can see why he's in a rut.

His supervisor moved to a larger, more prestigious company a few months ago. Before he left, he told Donald to call him about possible openings at this company. But Donald has been procrastinating, making excuses to himself as to why he doesn't pick up the phone and call his former supervisor.

Then, one day, one of Donald's colleagues, who started at the same time and at the same level as Donald, told him that he had exciting news--he contacted their former supervisor and was hired as a marketing manager for a lot more money and better benefits. Donald congratulated him and wished him well but, inwardly, he berated himself for not calling their former supervisor and getting that job. He knew that he was far more knowledgeable and had better skills than his colleague, but he missed out because he allowed himself to stagnate in his comfort zone. He felt frustrated and stuck, and he didn't know what to do to get out of his rut.

If you would like to branch out, but you feel stuck in your comfort zone, ask yourself these questions to clarify what's holding you back:
  • What do you really want in your life that you don't have now?
  • What are the self-limiting fears that are keeping you from having what you want?
  • What are you afraid will happen if you move out of your comfort zone?
  • Are you living up to other people's expectations rather than doing what you really want?
Moving out of your comfort zone doesn't mean doing things that you're really not ready to do. For instance, if you just started taking yoga classes and you admire how some of the more advanced students can do head stands, it doesn't mean that you should try to do this as a beginner before you're ready. First, you need to learn the basics and develop your abilities to the point where you and your yoga teacher both feel that you can begin to do preparatory work for the head stand--otherwise you could injure yourself.

So, moving out of your comfort zone doesn't mean being foolhardy. Moving out of your comfort zone can be as simple as taking the next step--whatever the next step might be. So, if you've been doing yoga for a little while and your teacher encourages you to go a little deeper into a posture because she can see that you can do this safely without injuring yourself, but you decide to stay at your current level rather than work a little harder, then you're keeping yourself stagnant in your comfort zone and you won't progress.

Taking Steps to Making Changes
Small steps can lead to big changes. So, for instance, if you're afraid of public speaking, but you know it would help you to present your ideas to your boss and the senior staff, taking a public speaking class or working with a coach might be the small step you need to take in order to take the next step that could help you advance.

For most people, as they challenge themselves by taking steps outside of their comfort zone, they build confidence, and this can create an upward spiral.

If you find yourself stuck in your comfort zone, you could benefit from consulting with a psychotherapist or coach to help you advance to the next step and, ultimately, help you to get what you want in your life.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist. I have helped many clients to move out of their comfort zone to lead more fulfilling lives.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me: josephineolivia@aol.com


Photo Credit: photo credit: Phillip Ritz via photopin cc

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